ISM: Manufacturing grew for 18th straight month in January The Institute of Supply Management released its January report of manufacturing activity in the U.S. on Tuesday, stating that manufacturing activity grew for the 18th consecutive month, while the overall economy rose for the 20th straight month.

The manufacturing sector grew at a faster clip in January than the month prior, registering 60.8 percent - its highest level since May 2004; January also serves as the sixth consecutive month of month-over-month growth in the industry. Norbert J Ore, the chair of the ISM, stated in the the report that "new orders and production continue to be strong, and employment rose above 60 percent for first time since May 2004."

On a more granular level, 14 of the 18 industries that the report covers reported growth in January of this year, with sectors as varied as petroleum and coal products, primary metals and apparel all logging gains. The four industries that contracted during the first month of the year were textile mills, printing and related support activities, plastics and rubber products and nonmetallic mineral products.

Still, many executives at the companies surveyed are loath to hire additional workers, citing an uncertain economic future and rising commodity costs as barriers: One executive from the fabricated metal products sector said that "January and February sales will be decent, and we see a strong March; we're cautiously optimistic, but reluctant to hire."  
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